City Diary: Bankers go in to bat against the professionals

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The Independent Online
Victor Blank's annual cricket match at his Oxfordshire retreat this weekend in aid of the Wellbeing charity for women and babies promises some intriguing confrontations. For the last seven years retired top-class cricketers have been pitched against celebs and businessmen.

This year, for instance, how will Mr Blank, chairman of merchant bank Charterhouse, fare against the bowling of Phil Edmonds? Will Nigel Wray, chairman of Burford Holdings, get over his hamstring problems in time to bowl against Clive Lloyd and David Gower? Whatever, the game's the thing. Sir David Frost and Mr Blank will select their teams from the gathered throng, though I must say I would back Sunil Gavaskar against Lord Harris, chairman of Carpetright, or WPP's Martin Sorrell, anytime. Rory Bremner is also on hand, so the commentary should be good.

Brian Keelan, the pugnacious director of corporate finance at SBC Warburg, is set to make a surprise intervention at the Westminster Health Care EGM today.

Wesminster has launched a hostile bid for Goldsborough Healthcare and is holding today's meeting to gather shareholder support. Mr Keelan, like the bad fairy, is likely to spoil the party. Not many people know that Goldsborough owns shares in Westminster. Having access to the EGM, Goldsborough has co-opted Mr Keelan to represent it, and in particular to ask a number of nasty questions, such as: Where is Westminster's Annual Report? What are the occupancy figures for Westminster's residential homes? And how big are its debts?

If Mr Keelan does make his appearance, Westminster and its adviser Barings, led by Anthony McGrath, are in for a bumpy ride.

A Manchester law firm has set up an office in a hospital - but no jokes about ambulance-chasing, please. Donns of Manchester has been invited by the NHS trust board at Salford's Hope Hospital to set up business there on the specific condition that the law firm will not accept cases against the hospital.

Law firms are now targeting NHS trusts as new areas for expansion, and would like to see themselves as a sort of Citizens' Advice Bureau for staff and patients. Lets hope so. According to Chambers & Partners' Directory of the Legal Profession 1995-96, Donns is "best known for accident and uninsured loss litigation".

Amschel Rothschild's untimely death at the age of 41 raises questions about the future of NM Rothschild, the famly merchant bank led by Sir Evelyn de Rothschild. According to City observers, the bank itself will be unaffected, since Amschel's side of the family did not own equity in the bank, but Rothschild Asset Management, of which he was chairman, now needs a new leader.

Likely candidates would appear to include two non-executive directors of RAM, Sir Carel Mosselmans, chairman of Rothschild International Asset Management, and Sir Hugh Bidwell, former Lord Mayor of London and a non- executive director of RAM.

Amschel Rothschild was hard at work pulling in the various global strands of RAM to be centred on Paris when he died on Monday night. The bank itself is not commenting.

Wall Street is rocking with gossip following allegations that dozens of young brokers are paying others to take their licensing exams. The National Association of Securities Dealers says that some brokers pay as much as $2,500 to others to sit the exam on their behalf.

"We're on to a startling number of people," Martin Kuperberg, the New York district director of the NASD, concedes. Already prospective brokers sitting the tests are being asked to give their fingerprints and from September, all exam sessions will be recorded on videotape.